Florida DPMW Postpones Lopez Hearing
by Jim Freer
Date Posted: 11/5/2008 6:47:54 PM
Last Updated: 11/6/2008 10:42:25 AM
The Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has postponed a hearing that was scheduled for Nov. 5 on a possible 30-day suspension of Paco Lopez, who leads Calder Race Course jockeys in victories this year.
Attorneys representing the Florida DPMW and an attorney representing Lopez are still discussing the case, said Alexis Antonacci, spokeswoman for that agency. The case is still pending and the hearing will be rescheduled, likely for sometime in early December, she said.
Carl Linda, an attorney who represents Lopez, could not be reached for comment.
On Aug. 4, Calder stewards suspended Lopez for 30 days for what they called “an extremely careless riding incident” in a race the previous day at the Miami Gardens, Fla., track. Lopez appealed that suspension.
The Nov. 5 hearing in Tallahassee, Fla., was to have been conducted by a hearing officer of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The Florida DPMW is a division of that department. The hearing was to have been open to Lopez, his attorney and stewards—in person or by phone.
A hearing officer of that agency can uphold, reduce, or overturn a stewards’ suspension. An officer has up to 90 days to issue a ruling after a hearing. But “it does not normally take that long,” Antonacci said.
Lopez, a 23-year-old native of Mexico, led riders at the Calder meet with 161 wins. Manoel Cruz was second with 121 wins in that meet, which ended Oct. 19. Lopez was that meet’s riding champion even though he missed 13 days due to suspensions by stewards.
Through Nov. 4, Lopez leads with 18 wins and Cruz is second with eight at the track’s Tropical at Calder meet, which runs through Jan. 2, 2009.
The postponement of the hearing increases the prospect that Lopez could win both 2008 Calder riding championships.
Lopez had a five-pound weight allowance for non-stakes races until Sept. 8, 2008. The loss of that apprentice status has not cost him rides from several top trainers who have been using him throughout the Calder meet.
He has rides in seven of the eight stakes races on Calder’s Nov. 8 Florida Million card. All of those stakes are for Florida-breds.
Lopez’s 2008 record has made him a top candidate for this year’s Eclipse Award for Apprentice Jockey.
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